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  Paul  Rowntree 

Communiqué No. 07 by Paul Rowntree
sent from London during the first WW2 blitz

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Communiqué No.7

Barts,
E.C.1

24.Sept.1940

Dear Parents,

After conscientiously posting the letter on the way to breakfast I get news just afterwards. We were turned away from Gresham Street this morning which was full of glass and has a small deep crater. Coming into Barts I passed people as usual without them saying anything. I left my bike in the West Wing and walked in the square to go round the corner of the West Wing on the way to breakfast. On turning the corner I saw the unexpected sight. It is hard to remember what it all looked before the bomb fell there. It has knocked down a lot of the old college lecture theatres and completely blocked the passage between O.Ps. and the square. It is a very old part of the building and, except where one huge girder supports a high wall, it has all fallen pretty easily. The bomb luckily missed the West Wing - where students were sleeping in the basement and it missed the catering coy. - in fact it fell between. And, of course, it missed the wards. No one was injured. If they had been I expect it would have been different, but nobody has expressed annoyance. It was our turn anyway and it chose a good place to fall; but in spite of the considerable damage and expense it will cause, it is just another change in environment. It means a longer walk to meals. One of the ARP students was between the West Wing and the bombed building when it dropped. He and others threw themselves against the wall and were uninjured. Some of the windows at the back of the West Wing were broken, but mine are untouched. I have seen a lot of glass with wire netting incorporated in it, both at the Hospital and in Gresham Street. It stands blast extremely well. Except for very small bits which come away, the panes remain “whole” (though com­pletely broken) the pieces held together by the wire. The bomb cannot have been a very big one ( perhaps 500 lbs? some say 250 lbs. maybe less). Several people thought they heard one bomb drop without exploding.

Extra hot (?) News.

It has been reported from a reliable source (via Black) that it was a land mine which was dropped on Hill End Hospital last night. It can hardly have been unintentional or aimed at any other military objective. I understand it fell between two wards and that three people were injured by flying glass. It is feared that Kimber was untouched. The Hospital windows are particularly well protected against flying glass, otherwise I should imagine glass would have done more damage - knowing how a mine breaks windows.

I shall be playing rugger there tomorrow so will see it.

We thought the bomb at Barts would effect the question of evacuation, but the mine at Hill End (which presumably was aimed, whereas the Barts one may have been meant for may more (strategically important places) will effect it still more.

A dirty little tramp of a man was seen photographing the Barts wreckage this morning from the square. He was very nearly bundled off with violence - but it was Sir Harold Gillies and his “Compass” camera.

A whole gang of students and porters have just been lifting and pushing a Wolsley over a low wall from behind the West Wing under my window. It belongs to one of the staff, and the normal way out is blocked.

Tum Tum has just acquired a banjo. His playing consists of singing tunefully in harmony and strumming the same chord all the time.

Much love,

Paul.

Barts,
E.C.1

24.Sept.1940

Dear Parents,

After conscientiously posting the letter on the way to breakfast I get news just afterwards. We were turned away from Gresham Street this morning which was full of glass and has a small deep crater. Coming into Barts I passed people as usual without them saying anything. I left my bike in the West Wing and walked in the square to go round the corner of the West Wing on the way to breakfast. On turning the corner I saw the unexpected sight. It is hard to remember what it all looked before the bomb fell there. It has knocked down a lot

of the old college lecture theatres and completely blocked the passage between O.Ps. and the square. It is a very old part of the building and, except where one huge girder supports a high wall, it has all fallen pretty easily. The bomb luckily missed the West Wing - where students were sleeping in the basement and it missed the catering coy. - in fact it fell between. And, of course, it missed the wards. No one was injured. If they had been I expect it would have been different, but nobody has expressed annoyance. It was our turn anyway and it chose a good place to fall; but in spite of the considerable damage and expense it will cause, it is just another change in environment. It means a longer walk to meals. One of the A.R.P. students was

between the West Wing and the bombed building when it dropped. He and others threw themselves against the wall and were uninjured. Some of the windows at the back of the West Wing were broken, but mine are untouched. I have seen a lot of glass with

wire netting incorporated in it, both at the Hospital and in Gresham Street. It stands blast extremely well. Except for very small bits which come away, the panes remain "whole" (though completely broken) the pieces held together by the wire. The bomb cannot have been a very big one ( perhaps 500 lbs? some say 250 lbs. maybe less). Several people thought they heard one bomb drop without exploding.

Extra hot (?) News.

It has been reported from a reliable source (via Black) that it was a land mine which was dropped on Hill End Hospital last night. It can hardly have been unintentional or aimed at any other military objective. I understand it fell between two wards and that three people were injured by flying glass. It is feared that Kimber was untouched. The Hospital windows are particularly well protected against flying glass, otherwise I should imagine glass would have done more damage - knowing how a mine breaks windows.

I shall be playing rugger there tomorrow so will see it.

We thought the bomb at Barts would effect the question of evacuation, but the mine at Hill End (which presumably was aimed, whereas the Barts one may have been meant for may more (strategically important places) will effect it still more.

A dirty little tramp of a man was seen photographing the Barts wreckage this morning from the square. He was very nearly bundled off with violence - but it was Sir Harold Gillies and his "Compass" camera.

A whole gang of students and porters have just been lifting and pushing a Wolsley over a low wall from behind the West Wing under my window. It belongs to one of the staff, and the normal way out is blocked.

Tum Tum has just acquired a banjo. His playing consists of singing tunefully in harmony and strumming the same chord all the time.

Much love,

Paul.